web analytics
March 29, 2015 / 9 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Discordant Notes of Open Orthodoxy

What Makes a Community a Community?
Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

A leader without a community is a stray voice in the wind. A community without a leader is little more than a mob.

The relationship between leader and community brings to mind two stories.

The first is of a poor simpleton who was befriended by a millionaire lover of music who happened to have a private orchestra. One day, the simpleton asked to be assigned a position in the orchestra. Astonished, the rich man exclaimed, “I had no idea you could play an instrument.”

“I can’t,” the simpleton replied. “But I see you have a man there who does nothing but wave a stick around while the others are really working hard, playing. His job I can do.”

How many of us are like that simpleton, believing that leaders do nothing more than “wave a stick around”? How many of us believe it is only the orchestra, the community, that does the work?

The second story also concerns an orchestra. During rehearsal, everything seemed to be going perfectly. Gorgeous music filled the hall as 150 skilled musicians responded to the maestro’s guiding hands. Suddenly, in the midst of a fortissimo passage, the conductor rapped the music stand. Music fell to silence. “Where is the piccolo?” he demanded.

The piccolo player had missed his entry, and even in the exalted fullness of the orchestra’s playing, the maestro heard what was missing.

Trained, seasoned and sensitive leaders keep their eyes and ears attuned to the role and mission of every community member. Only when everyone plays together, closely watching and following the leader’s direction, is there perfect harmony.

And such a performance deserves thunderous applause.

Open Orthodoxy, a much-discussed phenomenon in the Jewish community, is an orchestra that disregards its conductor. What is left is disharmony and discord. I cannot help but believe that anyone preaching Open Orthodoxy would ever consider himself part of an Orthodox orchestra if he knew his discordant and thunderous noise would be immediately halted by a fine-eared maestro rapping on his shtender and demanding, “Where is the piccolo?”

Such a maestro would demand to know, “Is this what you learned from my decades of preaching and teaching? Is this what I left you with? So soon after leaving you, you destroy what I built, and you still parade as my talmidim, with no shame?”

That maestro, of course, could be none other than Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, ztl, the Rav. I have no doubt that were the Rav alive today, Open Orthodoxy would not be so much as a bad dream. Not one of its leaders and spokesmen, senior or junior, would risk being escorted into the Rav’s apartment – where every guest arrived with chil u’reada, with fear and trembling – in the Yeshiva University dorm to explain the catalog of trespasses, from ordaining women and then having them serve as rabbinic staff at Orthodox synagogues to changing gender roles in synagogue services (women leading Kabbalat Shabbat, reading in shul from the Torah, serving as makriah for shofar blowing) to even promoting gay marriage and changing conversion standards.

Owning up to that list of trespasses against the community’s norms would be challenging enough, but would Open Orthodoxy mentors have the audacity to explain to the Rav the reasoning behind their denial of ikarei haemunah, including the historicity of the Torah, the existence of the Avot, the Exodus, the existence of prophecy, the Messiah? Would they have the chutzpah to rationalize to the Rav their policies regarding interfaith and interdenominational issues, including conducting interfaith programs in their synagogues?

They would not have dared. It is inconceivable that anyone involved in the Open Orthodoxy movement would have dared challenge the conductor who brilliantly led the Modern Orthodox orchestra until his passing two decades ago.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Discordant Notes of Open Orthodoxy”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
18,000 Iranian Centrifuges
Netanyahu Warns Iran-Yemen-Nuclear Deal Axis ‘Dangerous to Humanity’ [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
Father Gabriel Naddaf with soldiers

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

Islamic Relief Worldwide Logo

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

There is something quite distinctive about the biblical approach to time.

The Waqf kept control of the Temple Mount due to Dayan’s “magnanimity in victory” after 6 Day war

The event promotes “1 state” solution (end of Israel as a Jewish State), BDS, lawfare against Israel

I rescued you?! You’re doing me a favor letting me help you!

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Safran-021315

Jews cover the head not as ID but because wearing it makes concrete to ourselves our devotion to God

It’s easier to take Jews out of galus than to take galus out of Jews – Chassidic master

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

It is difficult to remain faithful in galut, the ultimate Rorschach test for all Jewish generations

Racheli Frankel: “I didn’t think they were thrown just anywhere. The tears of Hebron embraced them”

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-discordant-notes-of-open-orthodoxy/2014/02/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: